This year Australia is celebrating National Recycling Week from the 11th – 17th of November. Established by Planet Ark in 1996, this annual event aims to educate the public and bring a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling (Planet Ark 2019). It is an opportunity for councils, workplaces, schools and individuals to discuss the benefits of recycling and sustainable practices and work towards becoming more successful recyclers.
Modern manufacturing processes place a strain on the Earth. With a growing population there is an increasing demand for modern materials, such as plastics which are having a significant impact on the planets natural ecosystems. This we need to protect the environment through the advancement of technology and reduction in waste (Ecology Center, 2017).
Benefits of recycling
Recycling is the process of converting waste into reusable material. Through recycling your community and the environment will benefit in many ways, such as;
- By collecting and processing materials to create new products, the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators reduces (United States Environmental Protection Agency 2017).
- Recycling paper, carboards and wood helps conserves natural resources, saving the trees and forests (Friends of the Earth 2018).
- Reusing materials reduces the need to collect new raw materials and prevents the accumulation of pollution (United States Environmental Protection Agency 2017).
- As recycling uses less energy on sourcing and processing new raw materials, it produces lower climate-changing carbon emissions (Friends of the Earth 2018).
Challenges of recycling
Recycling is a constantly evolving industry, with new technologies and continual development, which creates a lot of confusion around what can and can’t be recycled. The Australasian recycling label provides easy to understand instructions about how to correctly dispose of every part of a product’s packaging. The labelling system notifies which product parts belong in the recycling bin, the rubbish bin, or which can be returned to a soft plastic collection bins at a Coles or Woolworths store in Australia (Planet Ark 2019). The Australasian labelling program is designed to help reduce waste by;
- Delivering a clear, well-understood label that will provide greater consumer clarity about what packaging can be recycled.
- Increasing the recovery of recyclable materials and reducing contamination in the waste stream.
- Helping brands to design packaging that is easier to recycle.
- Supporting businesses to inform consumers about the recyclability of their packaging.
Useful Tips for Recycling
Recycling may seem complicated, but the first steps to help with the war on waste are to avoid, reduce reuse. Repurpose, and then recycle (Planet Ark 2018). These 7 golden rules of kerbside recycling will help you to become a successful recycler (Planet Ark 2018);
1.LOOK FOR THE LABEL: The Australasian Recycling Label is a proven system that tells you which items can and can’t be recycled.
2. PUT IT IN LOOSE: A common contamination problem seen in kerbside recycling bins is seeing recycles materials in non-recyclables bags. Easy to recycle materials, accepted in most kerbside collections include:
- Paper & cardboard
- Metal cans
- Glass jars & bottles
- Plastic containers
3. LEAVE IT OUT: Contamination in terms of kerbside recycling occurs when non-recyclable items such as plastic bags are put in the recycling bin. It can clog up recycling machines, degrade the value of recycled materials, increase waste going to landfill and increase the cost of recycling. These materials are not accepted in kerbside collections:
✗ Recyclables in plastic bags
✗ Soft Plastics
✗ E-waste (e.g. batteries, mobiles)
✗ Window/drinkware glass
4. CHECK LOCALLY: Recycling rules for other materials can vary between council areas. Search ‘RecyclingNearYou’ or check directly with your council to find out what’s accepted.
5. DROP IT OFF: Items like mobile phones, coffee capsules, printer cartridges, computers, TVs, paint, soft plastics and beverage containers (instated with a Container Deposit Scheme) can be recycled at drop off locations. Search ‘RecyclingNearYou’ or check directly with your council to find out what’s accepted.
6. IF IN DOUBT: Leave it out of the recycling bin! ‘Wish-cycling’ doesn’t work. Putting the wrong thing in the wrong bin can ruin your good recycling efforts
7. BUY IT BACK: Unless you’re buying packaging and products with recycled content like some plastic bottles and Planet Ark Paper, you’re not fully recycling. Search our Recycled Products Directory.
There are a wide range of items that household recycling services do not process, including electronic waste, batteries, printer cartridges, whitegoods, furniture and more. To find out more information on what you can and can’t recycle, call the National Recycling Hotline on 1300 733 712 or visit the Planet Ark: Recycle Near You website at https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/about/ to search for drop-off locations to recycle items that are not accepted in kerbside collections.
Our team at Integrate Sustainability is passionate about reducing waste in our community and the environment. To help you meet your waste management goals contact us through 9468 0338 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more advice and assistance.
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